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Urban Quest Field Note #19: Dialing in to the signal field


It’s a new practice, a new way of being, to walk out into the front yard with the restocked bird feeder in hand and to speak a morning greeting to those creatures in earshot of me.

“Hello,” cheerfully pitched, I offer my greeting to my aviary friends.  It feels like a bow.  I do it because, like a prayer, it turns me on to the signal field within me and around me.  It reminds me that I am entering their habitat.  It reminds me of who’s the guest.

Urban Quest Practice:  Know where you are. Know who’s with you.  BE where you are.                                                                      


Urban Quest Field Note: Do I love the land enough yet?

What does organic have to do with a spiritual journey to reconnect with the natural world?  Vandana Shiva, soil conservationist and organic farming activist of India, writes, “Organic farming is the answer to drought and climate change.  If we do not respect the soil and if we do not recommit ourselves to ahimsa, we can rapidly disintegrate as a civilization.” *

What does ahimsa mean?  Ahimsa, in the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions, refers to the principle of non-violence toward all living things.

I confess that in the past I have not lived mindfully in relation to the land. I have not wakefully considered the reasons for supporting the growth and consumption of organic foods.  The concept of ahimsa, the notion of mindfully considering the necessity of recycling organic matter – nutrients, as a means of being in peaceful, harmonious relationship with the earth, is relatively new to me.  Albert Howard writes about the spirit of the Law of Return, “Taking without giving is a robbery of the soil and a banditry; a particularly mean form of banditry, because it involves the robbing of future generations which are not here to defend themselves.”

So what to think of this?  I feel quickened in consciousness to continue to evaluate my living, my relationship to the land by looking more closely at what I consume, the places where my food and other things I purchase come from. Up next to my conscience and my base sense of willingness to consider these things, I ask of myself, do I love the land enough yet to care about the balance needed?  Do I care – enough, love – enough yet… to change my behavior toward the land?


*A Soil Pilgrimage, 10.8.15  The Asian Age

“Wild Space” Wednesdays: Sojourner’s outdoor sanctum

Whilst yet a child, [Sojourner] listened to a story of a wounded soldier, left alone in the trail of a flying army, helpless and starving, who hardened the very ground about him with kneeling in his supplications to God for relief, until it arrived.  From this narrative, she was deeply impressed with the idea, that if she also were to present her petitions under the open canopy of heaven, speaking very loud, she should the more readily be heard; consequently, she sought a fitting spot for this, her rural sanctuary.  The place she selected, in which to offer up her daily orisons, was a small island in a small stream, covered with large willow shrubbery, beneath which the sheep had made their pleasant winding paths; and sheltering themselves from the scorching rays of noon-tide sun, luxuriated in the cool shadows of the graceful willows, as they listened to the tiny falls of the silver waters.  It was a lonely spot, and chosen by her for its beauty, its retirement, and because she thought that there, in the noise of those waters, she could speak louder to God, without being overheard by any who might pass that way. When she had made choice of her sanctum, at a point of the island where the stream met, after having been separated, she improved by pulling away the branches of the shrubs from the centre, and weaving them together for a wall on the outside, forming a circular arched alcove, made entirely of graceful willow.  To this place she resorted daily, and in pressing time much more frequently.

From The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, 1850, by O. Gilbert

Excerpt in Sacred Journeys, J. Richardson, 1995